As part of my professional growth plan for last year, I committed to read 20 Literacy Strategies to Meet the Common Core: Increasing Rigor in Middle and High School Classrooms (book info and free resources may be found here). Confession: I did not finish this book before the end of the school year. I have…oh, my, I have somewhere near 20 days before our unit planning collaboration day. Oh, my! In hopes of no more major interruptions in my life, my plan is to now read this book between now and then and to write a post for each strategy before that date. Maybe a post…or two…per day.
Authors Elaine K. McEwan-Adkins‘ and Allyson J. Burnett‘s goal is to increase secondary students’ reading and comprehension of informational texts, thereby, also, teaching students how to learn, as they assist teachers in adapting strategies that will better enhance student learning. In what they refer to as a “spiraling curriculum,” they introduce 19 strategies, with strategy 20 culminating in “literacy rehearsal” across the curriculum.
Part 1: Overview of Key Ideas and Details
This section of the book “presents a set of literacy strategies designed to help your students meet the standards found in the first section of the Common Core College and Career Anchor Standards for Reading…”
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
Go back and read slowly…here’s our task:
- Teach students to read closely.
- Help students determine what the text explicitly states.
- Make inferences about implicit meanings.
- Learn how to summarize conclusions.
- Support all of the above with textual evidence.
- Not stated…but needed…enhance vocabulary (explicit, implicit, inferences, summarize, evidence)
Note from myself…Common Core has fewer standards? Really? How many skills will have to be taught and retaught just to master any of the above numbered tasks. Yes…I digress.
The chart on pages 23-24 sums up the above list very nicely.
Strategy #1: Read-Decide-Explain
Goal: Students will decide if each sentence….yes, each sentence…assists in answering a teacher-generated question and then explain why or why not.
The premise for this goal is that students need to understand, to comprehend what they are reading.
Mortimar J. Adler (1940) defines comprehension as reading with “x-ray eyes.” Comprehension has two facets: extracting meaning and constructing meaning. Extracting meaning from a text at the most basic level – literal comprehension – involves enumerating the key facts, opinions, or ideas in expository texts or retelling a narrator…constructing meaning, a process whereby the reader brings a unique set of experiences and knowledge to the text and, from reading and interacting with peers and teachers, develops new (to the reader) insights and ideas that help affix the reading experience in long-term memory.
First, teacher chooses a small passage and divides it into chunks, develops a guiding question, analyzes each sentence, and
concludes with a sentence summary of how the text answers that guiding question. See sample from the book at right. Here’s a link to a blank template (must create a free account first).
This model coincides well with the Gradual Release Model, which I highly encourage, support, and do my best to implement (great article here on this topic). Thus, for that “chunked” text above, I deviate a bit…and would arrange the analysis of texts in this manner: model the first chunk, have the students complete the next chunk in groups, and then complete the last chunk individually. This method, so powerful, does encourage fewer texts being read due to the time commitment to complete.
Yes, this is a strategy I can easily utilize as we analyze a text I would also use this when analyzing author’s choices, especially discussing the reason for including the sentences where we answered “no” under the Decide column.